This is a word that I received during service on March 13th, 2016 in response to the attacks and difficulties people in our congregation have been facing. I had the opportunity to share an abbreviated version of this word at the end of service. Here is a fuller version:
I feel like Jesus is saying to ask him who he wants to be for you right now. I first heard Graham Cooke talk about this a few years ago and began (sporadically) applying it in my own life. Last year, I began to have intense back and sciatic nerve pain, to the point where I couldn't sleep or function unless I was on corticosteroids. During that time, I was frequently telling Jesus that I wanted to know him as my Healer. But as I prayed for a few days, only one faint image came to my mind: Jesus asleep in a boat (see Mark 4:36-41).
I mostly ignored this image for a few days, still asking for Jesus to show himself to me. Finally he made it clear that this image of him asleep in the boat was exactly what he wanted me to see. He explained to me that if I would just see him at rest in the middle of my storm, I could become like him and enter that same rest (see 2 Corinthians 3:18). I knew that this was about much more than just being comforted during this particular trial: it was about taking on part of his image (specifically, his rest). If I could see him at rest, I would be at rest in him through this storm, as well as any future storms I face.
We often want Jesus to be something in particular to us or just to give us some particular thing. When Lazarus died, his sister Martha was disappointed that Jesus didn't show up beforehand as his Healer. Instead, he showed up four days after Lazarus died and proclaimed himself to be the Resurrection and the Life, which was what Lazarus needed at that moment (see John 11:21-27). The Gospel of John records many “I am” statements from Jesus (I am the resurrection and the life; I am the good shepherd, etc.), but in none of those situations did the one(s) he addressed determine who or what he revealed himself to be. Martha didn't ask him to be the Resurrection and the Life; the Pharisees in John 10 certainly didn't ask him to be the Good Shepherd. It is our prerogative to present our needs to him; it is his prerogative to decide how he wants to show up in response, and how he shows up is always better than what we could have thought of asking him to be.
My back pain turned out to be the result of a benign tumor in my spinal canal, which was pushing my spinal cord off to one side. I had it removed surgically in June and have since been able to resume a normal life. While I certainly don't want any of the physical pain of that season to return, I do not look back on that season as a bad one. It was a tough season, but a good one. I got to know Jesus as my Rest and my Peace in a deeper way than I had known him before, and that was well worth the pain of that season!
Watchman Nee, a prominent 20th century Chinese church leader and Christian teacher used to say that “God will answer all our questions in one way and one way only, namely, by showing us more of his Son.” Everything we go through, good or bad, is an opportunity to see Jesus in a new way, an opportunity for him to be something to us, something we haven't known him to be for us before.
If you're going through a tough time, and just as importantly if you aren't, ask Jesus who and what he wants to be for you in this season. The more we see him, the more we're transformed into his image, and the clearer we can see him in the future (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).
Michael simply has a desire to hear Jesus' voice and to know him better. He and his wife, Amy, have a beautiful, adventurous daughter, Hallie. Professionally, Michael is a programmer and web developer, but he also loves to write, teach, cook and open his home to those desiring a good meal and good conversation.